Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

I flew Continental from Vancouver to Liberia, Costa Rica. Liberia is the capital of Quanacaste, the northwestern province.  There was a stop over in Houston and each leg of the journey was 2 to 3 hours long.  I had reservations at the Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort and Spa.  I rented a Toyata Yaris from Thrifty being picked up at the airport and driven to the lot 10 minutes away.  I didn't see any rental cars at the airport, all the companies having lots just outside. It was about a half hour drive to the hotel on Arenilla Beach on the Pacific Coast.
The medical conference I am is called "Medical Spanish Abroad" and uses the text Basic Medical Spanish by Olympia Piccardo, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 13th edition, Houghton Mifflin.  The course has classes Monday 7 am to 10 am then 4 pm to 630 pm. This is the same for Tuesday. Wednesday is a free day then Thursday and Friday the same schedule of morning and afternoon classes continues.  I'm on Day 2 and loving it.
The hotel is truly magnificent.  Costa Rica weather is perfect for this Canadian who left a blizzard.  It's t shirt and short weather in the day, very hot mid day and then more short sleeve shirt and shorts or slacks in the evening. I brought a jacket and haven't worn it. I did bring sun tan oil. I was told to bring insect spray but haven't used it or needed it. I expect that's for excursions.  So far I've just stayed by the pool reading and tanning with a little bit of swimming.  The beach and ocean are right there too but I've not made it beyond the pool. There are several restaurants here in the locked and guarded compound of the hilton. I've had the breakfast and dinner smorgasboard in the main one. It's incredible cuisine with terrific variety.  There are a couple of bars off the pools but being a non drinker I've not even gone in.  People seem to be having fun. It's not a sports bar atmosphere but a cross between the beach pub and southern night club flavour.  Grass roofs and open air.  Exotic birds flit about and even land on the counters when people are not near.
I've driven to Coco Beach a couple of times and really enjoyed the 20 minute drive. It's hilly with views of dry coast scrub trees and brown grass, a.bit like northern California in the summer.  Coco Beach is definitely more of a loud tourist place with none of the retreat like flavour of the Hilton Papagayo.  While there are families with small children and young people romantically involved at the Hilton Papayo,  Coco Beach seems more like a shopping place with lots of local crafts on display, more 'party' bars and various tour guides and attraction.
I was initially there to visit the excellent dentist, who the Hilton recommended. She's young bright and beautiful with fine sterile technique, fluent English and married to the young clinical doctor in the office next door.  The secretary is a very pleasant fashion model.  I had a cracked tooth filled for $60 Typical of rates here they're generally advertized at about a third of Canadian.  The same procedure would have probably cost me $120 to $200 in Canada.  I was glad to get it done here as I would have likely had to take time off work.  A trip to the dentist isn't really a break from work whereas it was a bit of an 'event' here. I rather enjoyed the 'excursion' and the communications with the locals in the process. Lovely people all in all at the clinic with several chatty customers waiting their turn for either doctor or dentist.
I'm very much enjoying it here. I've book scuba diving in Coco Beach because the Hilton rates were nearly 4 - 5x the local going rate.  Some of my fellow students are booking a tour on horse back or hiking in the national park, Rincon de la Veija for tomorrow. By map it looks about h alf an hour north of Liberia. I drove to Liberia and it was just a half hour from here.    The guide books report hot springs and great bird watching so I'm truly looking forward to that. IMG 0497 DSCN9892DSCN9859DSCN9854IMG 0494DSCN9852IMG 0500DSCN9850IMG 0495IMG 0492DSCN9842DSCN9906DSCN9913DSCN9851DSCN9841IMG 0493DSCN9907DSCN9903IMG 0508DSCN9912DSCN9896DSCN9876DSCN9888DSCN9872DSCN9896IMG 0501IMG 0510


Jim Thomson said...

Really Good Post

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Sharon Simms said...

When I was in Guanacaste in January I also had some dental work done (Dr Ana Valdelomar) and was very pleased.

The drive from the Papagayo Hilton to Coco is definitely an enjoyable one. On your next trip check out some of the peaceful secluded residential areas of Coco. There are some great neighborhoods all along your route.